Would you consider living in the back of a van?
Well, that has been my dream for the past few weeks. It seems to be one of the only ways to be self-sufficient in this capitalist society. A society that swallows a chunk of our paycheck in return for a place to rest our heads at night.
You don’t see the birds paying other birds worms for their spot on a tree branch.
But, back to the van. I know what you’re thinking. The girl’s seventeen, and she wants to throw away her entire future and become practically homeless?
Yes. Because existence is not worth anything if you don’t follow your heart, and follow your dreams.
If I lived in a van, my living expenses would be pared down to a minimal amount.
If I lived in a van, I could devote my days to creative pursuits.
If I lived in a van, I could have hours to visit the library and read, read, read.
If I lived in a van, I could be free. Or, at least, my time will be my own. My life will be my own.
The thought of living in a van, my own personal and cozy little place, makes me happy.
There is something within me, an angry, mischievous little pixie, that stamps its feet and squeaks in fury whenever it glimpses a social norm. Something within me – raw, visceral – rebels against conformity, and the disgustingly well-trodden path. Look! An entire wilderness awaits, bursting with lush monsters and creatures, and you want to go that way? Just to stare at a tree? Please.
The conventional holds no allure.
I mean…think about it…
Why should people have to spend most of their lives working to keep a roof over their heads?
Why should people waste their time at jobs they hate?
Why should people allow their talents to be constrained by financial realities?
Yes. The thought of skipping university to go and live in a van on the streets is terrifying.
And I know that living in a van is not all peaches and cream.
I know that living in a van requires giving up luxuries such as everyday showers, and stress-free trips to the bathroom.
That it’s hard. Even a little dangerous. Hard.
Maybe I’d have to endure loud noises at night. Be constantly afraid of someone smashing the vehicle’s window to loot its contents. Be woken in the middle of the night by a befuddled policewoman, who cannot understand why a young thing like me could possibly want to choose such a lifestyle, and report me to the authorities.
Who knows. I might end up bawling my eyes out in a grey-walled office, not because of my purported ‘homelessness’, as those daft police at their impersonal headquarters might assume, but because it would mean I’d have to give up my free and nomadic life, and be thrown back into the system. A wayward product. Chuck-chuck, goes the cookie cutter. Ah. Much better. And off I’ll go, a stiff little gingerbread woman with a dolorous, icing mouth.
Sweet. So sweet it makes you retch.
Maybe living in a van won’t solve all my problems. Maybe I’ll hate it more than a day job. Maybe the reality will be far less rosy than the ideal, as it always is, and I’ll end up trailing back into embrace of mainstream society and letting it kiss me on the cheek with its cold, loving lips.
Maybe, with all that time on my hands, I’ll procrastinate instead of doing work.
What I’m trying to say is: Who knows?
Of course, it’d be nice if I could, in the interval between now and my future residence in a van, snag a boyfriend who understands my affectionate yet cold and intimate yet distant nature, and who is willing enough to accompany me on my nomadic peregrinations.
Such a boyfriend could help me with the technicalities that I, as a dreamer, often have so much trouble with: navigating roads, finding gyms for their showering facilities, rigging up solar panels and alarms. One of the most daunting things about transmuting one’s ideas into reality is the incomprehensible, convoluted execution of it.
Plus, if I had someone with me, I think I’d feel much safer at night, when the moon comes out and drunks and unscrupulous people and bats roam the silvery-black streets. We could turn everyday in an adventure, together, and lie in the back of the van looking into each others’ eyes and whispering about the mysteries of existence.
How gorgeous. Such a daydream makes my heart fizzle with quiet, starry delight.
But it might remain a daydream. It probably will. In the end, it comes down to me. The only person I can truly rely on is myself. Dependency is often just a nice word for slavery.
You know. People often say, in regards to dreams, that it all comes down to how badly you want something. Just how much are you willing to sacrifice, hm?
I think I could suffer any personal discomfort – say, peeing in a bottle in the absence of a restroom, subsisting on a bland diet of vegetables, rice and beans, and living in a cramped space for years on end – for the sake of my creative pursuits, simply because such a desire is intertwined with the strands of my soul, like so many seams of glinting gold thread. Some stitches can’t be pulled out, and if they are, leave scars that never, never heal. Ever.
But I’d go a bit further and say it also comes down to how badly you don’t want something.
If you’re anything like me, and the thought of grinding away at a nine-to-five job that nibbles away the flesh of time from the bones of your existence makes you want to SCREAM, and do something very, very bad, and very, very nasty that will probably have very bad consequences, like, say, end your own existence, then you should consider an alternative.
You’ve only got one life. It’s so, so short. I don’t know. It just seems wrong, to let the current drag you along, doesn’t it? You’re choking, spewing bubbles from your mouth, you’re face is turning blue – blue – blue! Stop. Kick. Kick hard. Fight against the stream. Until you reach your salvation.
The very prospect of slotting neatly into society (and I would hazard this to be a very INFP mindset) makes me want to throw up. It’s not me. It never was, and never will be, me.
It’s about how badly you want something, and also how badly you don’t want other things.
Really, I’m just as scared as you are. I’m only a girl. I don’t know anything, and the world is so big and scary, and I’m so scared, and money leers at me everyday like some dead goblin with coins for eyes and a mouth stuffed with gobbets of bank notes and a slit throat. But I’m also a creature with one single, devoted goal. With one single love. And no, it’s not a boy. It’s not romance.
It’s writing. It’s imagination. It’s the crafting of stories.
I’m not so good at it yet. I’m pretty bad. And sometimes I’m scared I’ll never be good enough, as people tend to do. But, so what?
Everything takes practice. Ten years, twenty years, thirty years – I don’t care. I’ll get there.
And I guess I’ll find see how it pans out. From the back of a van.
Seeing as I don’t have a boyfriend, and am unlikely to procure one in the future…
I guess I just need to learn to drive first.
One teensy step at a time. Pitter-patter, my dear. Pitter-patter.